Google operates by using specific algorithms to rank websites within their search engine. They pride themselves on delivering the best possible results for a query, so they regularly update their algorithms to ensure that they are capturing the data that they need from your website.
Though Google will never say exactly what is included in their algorithms, updates can cover everything from the quality of your content to the usability of your website, as well as a range of other factors.
We know that these updates and changes can often be a worrying time for business owners as they may potentially see their website take a ranking or organic traffic hit. To help you recover from any past algorithm changes and prepare your website for any future SEO updates, read on.
Minor algorithm updates – Slight refinements to micro-algorithms:
Thousands of these minor updates are rolled out on a yearly basis and happen daily. They’re too small to notice but aim to improve the relevancy of search results over time.
Broad core algorithm updates – General adjustments to the main algorithm:
Typically occur three or four times a year, during which Google revisits which ranking factors, such as content or backlinks, contribute most to overall success in search results.
Major algorithm updates – Adjustments to micro-algorithms to address a specific issue, such as low-quality content or keyword stuffing:
Usually occur once or twice a year. Luckily, Google will often release a statement to give you a heads-up on any upcoming updates, providing you with enough time to prepare and make any relevant changes.
If your website has felt the impact of a recent update then Google has made it clear that there are no quick fixes that businesses can put in place. In fact, most digital marketers expect that any changes will take months rather than weeks to come to fruition, and they recognise that it could take a long time for your site to recover. This is because Google wants to see a real focus on improving quality over the long term, so changes will really need to be established before your place in the search engine rankings can be restored.
Whilst this could feel disheartening, the good news is that there are lots of positive changes that you can make to ensure that over time your website ranking does improve again. We are certain that if you put the following initiatives into place then not only will it help your site in the search engines, but it will also help your business and marketing strategy overall.
High-quality content which adds real value to your users and gives them the information that they are searching for is an invaluable tool for boosting your site in Google’s rankings. Websites that only have low value or thin content will not be rewarded in search engines.
Google now assigns a quality score to websites. Those with a high percentage of duplicate plagiarised and thin content, as well as those with a high ad-to-content ratio, are scored lower and are not rewarded in the search engine result pages.
One aspect of this update highlights that getting expert authors, copywriters or industry insiders to write your website content – pages, blogs or how to guides etc, will help the search engines to view your site favourably.
To deliver the best possible results for a query, Google now uses natural language processing (NLP) to better understand searcher intent. To help Google understand the context of your content, it should not be poorly written or lack focus.
It’s really important that you review all of your website content, including updating, consolidating and removing underperforming content.
On a quarterly basis, consider revamping your content if it is:
Along with great content, Google also wants to see that credible high-value sites are linking to yours. This is a key indicator that your site is trusted and that it provides valuable and recent information for its users.
Past algorithm updates:
Google penalises low-quality SEOs who use spammy tactics to gain backlinks, including buying links from link farms and PBNs (a network of websites linking to a single website).
Review all the links that are pointing to your site on a quarterly basis and if any come from low quality or spammy sites then take steps to try and remove them if possible.
You can also work on a strategy to increase links from high-quality sites to your own website. Remember though, it’s all about quality, not quantity!
Some tactics to consider as part of your link building strategy:
Trade media –
Research – Take the time to research key influencers who have high-value sites. Interact with them on social media and use effective PR to encourage them to link to your website.
Broken backlinks – Monitor any backlinks your website gains and check-in quarterly to make sure that the backlink is still pointing to your website and not a broken page. If pointing to a broken page, work to replace the backlink or 301 redirect the old URL to point to a new, working one.
Linkless mentions – Identify which websites might be mentioning your brand name but not linking and reach out to them to see if they’ll include a link to your homepage or another page.
Top tip: Type (intext:”inputyourbrandname”) into Google and it will return a list of websites where your brand is mentioned, but isn’t linked to.
Competitors – Found a website that’s linking to a competitor? Pitch an email to the website or editor with some industry expert copy improvements and see if they’ll consider swapping out the competitor backlink for your own.
Directories – Set up listings for your business on directories that are relevant to your niche and location.
Those visiting your website should be able to easily find what they are looking for. Sites that are not considered by Google to be usable will be negatively impacted by the search results. Review your site and ensure that it is clear fast loading and usable for your customers.
Past algorithm updates:
Websites are now ranked on how fast and user-friendly their mobile experience is.
Websites with intrusive pop-ups are penalised.
One for your radar! An upcoming algorithm update:
Google will now combine previous UX-related signals with three new benchmarks, measuring:
All three benchmarks must be met in order to qualify for a ranking boost.
Ever landed on a website and had a message pop up to flag that it’s “not secure”? That’s because they’re using the non-secure HTTP protocol (used to communicate between two systems over your computers network – the browser and the webserver).
If your website hasn’t upgraded to the secure version yet, you’re at a disadvantage as both Google and users will see your website as non-secure.
Past algorithm updates:
Google now gives small ranking boosts to websites that are secure.
If you are concerned about a recent algorithm or SEO update or want help preparing and responding to the next, have a chat with us. We are SEO experts who can advise you on the steps you need to take to safeguard and improve your website. Call us on 01727 260187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.